As Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) is poised to celebrate its 40th anniversary on September 7, there arises the nostalgic question – how did it all get started and grow to become the largest social service agency in Santa Clara County to service the Asian population? I have always been an admiring advocate of this organization and decided to investigate the birth of this unsung group, which has served so many.
It all began when a group of 12 concerned citizens got together around a kitchen table to solve a problem they saw arising. As Dr. Allan Seid recalls, “In 1972, I became aware that there was only one Asian American serving on the near two dozen decision-making Santa Clara Country boards and commissions. We all felt the unique and diverse needs of the Asian residents were thus unknown and neglected. We believed that a strong collective of concerned local Asian Americans was needed and wanted to set in motion placing as many socially conscious and responsive Asian Americans onto selective political bodies.” The original twelve at the table were Allan and Mary Chan Seid, Jeanette Arakawa, Robert Kam, Edward Kawazoe, Leo Lowe, Eimi Okano, Paul Sakamoto, Nilo Sarmiento, Paul Wong, Victor Wong, and Connie Young Yu.
These originals did not sit still once organized, as evidenced in what they accomplished in the first year. Immediately they adopted its name of Asian Americans for Community Involvement and became legally incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) organization. The “Daunting Dozen” soon became a membership of 38 who met monthly in the Seid’s living room. They gathered and submitted names of Asian Americans or appointments to eight major County commissions and successfully placed five. They established formal representation of AACI to the Palo Alto Textbook Legal Compliance Committee to reform Statewide School Curriculum and direct publishers to print, publish and sell racist-free and sexist-free books. In addition, they joined an effort to protest against the local Veterans Administration’s discriminatory and unlawful dismissal of an Asian American employee, as well as began dialogue with the County Mental Health Bureau to provide accessible, culturally appropriate and language specific mental health services to the quickly growing Asian American population in Santa Clara County.
Those early members of AACI at that time knew there were many Asian American needs, and they set about meeting those needs heads-on. Right on, AACI founders and members way back in 1974! You were the guiding light that led the way and now, forty years later, your dreams paved the way for AACI which serves thousands of needy citizens, from youth to senior citizens, in many areas routinely overlooked in the general society.
Original founding member, Dr. Allan Seid fondly looks back and says he is most proud of AACI’s achievements in providing a vast array of health, human and economic services to needy county immigrant populations. In particular he smiles recalling, “I am especially proud of initiating the AIDS/HIV Prevention and Counseling Program that AACI continued its service on through the years.” When meeting with the original 12 when they were brought together and honored at a DeAnza College AACI reception reunion earlier in the year, they all cited proudly other accomplishments they have seen happen at AACI in the ensuing years. They cited AACI’s ongoing programs of the “Asian Women Home” and “Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Program”, the “Asian Gay/Lesbian Program” and ACCI’s own “Asian Focused Primary Health Care Service.”
So hip hip hurray to the original founders for your foresight and perseverance in setting forth an organization and movement that has made you proud for the past 40 years. And congratulations to all those leaders who have continued their mission and expanded the services into a multi-million dollar establishment that the community can look too with pride and support. I commend the many unsung heroes who have given of many hours as board members and volunteers and I personally implore and invite all of you people who have sat on the sidelines applauding the group, to come forth on September 7 and celebrate with your fellow admirers of AACI at its 40th Anniversary Celebration Gala at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. It isn’t often that an organization can uphold and sustain the original mission of its founders, and continue to expand and grow beyond their original dreams.
Asian Americans for Community Involvement – I salute you! Let’s all get together to party and celebrate its important presence in the community in servicing the needs of our Asian American community. See you there! Ticket information: www.aaci.org or (408) 975-2730.
SAN FRANCISCO EXCITEMENT
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is a splash bang musical, which SHN is now presenting at the Orpheum Theater in downtown San Francisco. As evidenced from the cheering and the exuberant standing ovation, the audience loved the old songs, which were incorporated into the show’s dialogue, the glitzy costumes and the humor of the show. The story of three transvestites going into Australia to put on a show has many funny and sad moments, but with the colorful effects of singers descending from the ceiling, and comically costumed dancers, it is a show one can’t help laughing with. Only a short run, so rush off to see Priscilla, the name of the bus the trio were traveling on. www.shn.org.
Opening the new season, San Francisco Symphony’s opening night gala promises to be a great beginning of the season with soprano Audra McDonald performing selection from the Americam Songbook and Michael Tilson Thomas leading the Orchestra in Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Antheil’s Jazz Symphony. Proceeds from the Opening Night Gala benefits the Orchestra’s myriad community and education programs which provide music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area school children each year. Yay SFS. So c’mon one and all and enjoy the complimentary wine reception at 7pm in the Davies Symphony Hall lobby and following the concert, all guests can keep the festivities going at a lively indoor and outdoor party in the Tent Pavilion which will have food, beverages, live entertainment and dancing, no less. It’s a great night to celebrate and have fun, all for a good cause. Tickets: sfsymphony.org/gala.
GALA FAMILY REUNION
At the gala Second South Bay Seid Clan Reunion this summer, over 120 cousins celebrated the Palo Alto event by viewing simultaneous showings on different screens of five videos covering two recent visits to the ancestral village of Chang Sha. Attendees could see six exhibit boards featuring photo of the grave site ritual, festival and the Seid Clan Genealogical Records. California Seids included Georgia, Marshall and Lorraine of S. California, Pearl, Collin, Gary and Sheryl of Chico, Leslie and Faye of Sacramento, Syndi, Derice and Trici from Marin, Donald, Mary, Adam and Rose from East Bay, Diana, Pinky and Anita of Cupertino, Elaine, Vincent, Zeny and Jeff of Los Gatos, George Katy and Paul of Menlo Park. Other cousins came from North Caroline, Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. Eldest visitor was 94 year old Pearl Seid, with the youngest being 16 month old Tayla Seid.